NAACP Image Award Nominee, Ugandan Musician, Omega Bugembe Okello

 NAACP Image Award Nominee, Ugandan Musician, Omega Bugembe Okello

Not only does this East African Diva burst on the world music scene with a unique name, but she also blazons into the industry with a fantastic new sound. Omega Bugembe Okello, who just goes by the name Omega, is blessed with a powerful vocal range and the international ability of singing in various languages and dialects. The songstress who hails from Uganda has been described as “having a voice that touches the soul,” “bursting into song at birth,” and having “a beautiful voice.” If you listen to her music you will undoubtedly agree. She definitely has the kind of voice that pleasantly, but hauntingly seeps into one’s soul and her latest album, Kiwomera Emmeeme, embodies this very essence.

Omega draws from her African, in particular Ugandan, roots to bless her listeners and critics with a rich worldly flavour. Musically, she is old school in a new school kind of way, using her music as a medium of healing, loving, education, empowerment and celebration with well thought out lyrics and a memorable voice to boot.

Yet where did this all start? Omega began her musical life as a child prodigy. At the tender age of four, she was enrolled into the internationally acclaimed African Children’s Choir, a choir that usually only enrols African orphans aged 7-12. Although she herself was not an orphan, her tender age and natural musical talent impressed the choir’s administration so much that she was allowed to join. She toured the world with the choir, and it was from this experience that she blossomed into the singer she is today. Upon her return, Omega spent the next several years growing up in an orphanage, which her mother, who raised over 100 orphans, opened in Uganda. Surrounded by the suffering that characterized her country for the next 10 years of her life, Omega’s experience in the orphanage became one of the strongest foundations of her work ethic and continues to motivate her to give back to her society through her music.

Quite the independent, determined spirit, at the age of 16, Omega moved to the United States. This offered her the opportunity to work with the African Children’s Choir, this time as a featured artist on Omega – The Album, which she recorded at 17, and performed at the album’s release in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in front of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. She later studied biology at Seattle Pacific University.

Omega is talented and blessed with determination and musical skills, but it was not until 2006 that she decided to follow her dream of being a full-time singer. Balancing her education between Uganda and the USA, she finally earned a Masters Degree in Health Advocacy at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. An altruistic soul herself, she started out as a health advocate, working as a consultant and researcher for several health organizations. She did not wait for fame and fortune before she gave back to her community. Among many other charitable contributions, Omega teamed up with partners, who included Ugandans and members of the international community, to start the Alpha and Omega School in Kampala, Uganda; a school which provides mostly scholarship-funded primary education to over 300 pupils.

Her success in the health-care industry notwithstanding, Omega felt that she could help more people by following her dream. The charming singer, who admits that she passionately hates mediocrity decided to invest her life in fully utilizing her talent. So in 2006, Omega, who describes herself as an independent artiste, created her own record label, AlexOm Productions LLC in the USA and it seems like the sky has poured blessings down her way ever since. These blessings include an invitation to grace the stage of The Canal Room in New York City in late February 2008 to celebrate songs from Dr. Nina Simone’s daughter, Simone.

Omega’s latest 2008 album Kiwomera Emmeeme, which in Luganda means “it is sweet to the soul,” is an explosion of ethnic and western sounds. The album is a compilation of 10 songs; 8 of which she wrote. All but one of the songs on the album are in her native tongue, Luganda, except for one that is in Swahili. Omega incorporated the help of several people, including award-winning Ugandan songwriter Sylver Kyagulanyi to write the song Gunyuma – “Love is a wonderful thing.” She also collaborated with musicians from the USA, Madagascar, South Africa and Kenya to create an internationally stamped album. The song Tugilabilile, which means “Let’s take care of the earth,” was written to encourage us all to become more environmentally conscious. She also recorded a slew of other songs including Gwe wangamba – “You said,” Zibasanze – “Woe,” Amazima – “Truth,” and Utama wa Mapenzi- “The sweetness of love”. Fans can get a taste of what is undoubtedly her best work yet through her featured single Mujje which simultaneously invites people to find true meaning in life and to celebrate that very core of who we are.

The happily married songstress is an African musician on a mission to defy the negative stereotypes that define Africa, through her music. With her husband supporting her, Omega is on a quest to show the world the talented, happy, wealthy, musical Africa they are rarely exposed to. Her album, which is a reflection of her travels, flawlessly merges several cultures with tinges of jazz, blues, R &B, neo soul, gospel, contemporary and pop, blending with traditional African melodies. The instruments are a rich cultural assortment of fretless bass guitars, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, percussions, drums, keys traditional tube fiddle and African xylophones. Indeed there is no doubt that her music has global appeal. In fact Omega’s music was played on BBC World Service – Network Africa on September 25th 2007. The humble vocalist is destined for great things.

It therefore does not come as a surprise that Omega, the Ugandan songstress based in the Bay Area, would catch the eye of a top distributor. Earlier this year, her record label AlexOm Productions negotiated a distribution arrangement with Comin’ Atcha Distribution who already has a deal in place with Sony/Red.

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